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Reptiles (meaning "to creep") are a group of animals that have scales (or modified scales), breathe air, and usually lay eggs. The term reptile is loosely defined in everyday English to mean scaly, cold-blooded, egg-laying animals. In cladistics (a way of classifying life forms), the reptiles are more strictly defined and include the descendants of the most recent common ancestor of the turtles, lepidosaurs (lizards, snakes, tuataras), and archosaurs (crocodilians, dinosaurs, and birds). The maintenance of body temperature (cold- vs. warm-blooded) is not a factor in this classification, but skull and egg structure are.
Some Reptilian Extremes:
• • • • •
Biggest (Most Massive) reptile - the estuarine crocodile (over 7
m (23 ft) long).
Smallest reptile (and smallest lizard) - the British Virgin Islands
gecko (only 18 mm = 7/10 inches long) Fastest reptile - the spiny-tailed iguana (tracked at 34.9 km/h = 21 mph) Biggest (heaviest) snake - the anaconda of South America. Longest Snake - reticulated Python (over 10 m long)
The earliest reptiles appeared during the Upper Carboniferous period of the Palaeozoic era. Many forms evolved and flourished in the Mesozoic era. and krait. black mamba. the beaded lizard Weirdest ability .the leatherback turtle (up to 2.the Gila monster.probably the poisonous black mamba Biggest lizard . Since then the great majority of reptilian species have become extinct. only 5 of the 23 orders of reptiles that have existed now have living representatives.the Komodo dragon (up to 3 m long) Biggest turtle . The best-known orders are cited below.5 m) Most poisonous land snakes .• • • • • • Fastest-moving snake . which is known as the Age of Reptiles. Only poisonous lizards .9 meter) away. .the taipan (from Australia).horned lizards can squirt a thin spray of blood from their eyes up to of 3 feet (0.
The reptile skeleton is almost completely ossified (non-cartilaginous). or they may be reduced or lost. The skin is covered with scales. or joint. and bony plates may be embedded beneath the skin. . sacral ribs articulate with the pelvic girdle. The ribs of the thorax are attached to the breastbone. Two complete pairs of limbs may be present. as in snakes and some lizards. The skull is joined to the vertebral column by a single condoyle. as in birds. and when a sacrum (pelvis-connected portion of the spine) is present.
or partition.The reptilian heart consists of three chambers. Blood in the veins returns to the heart from the tail and hind limbs. in which only one develops. in contrast to birds and mammals. the ventricle is almost completely divided into two chambers by a septum. including two auricles and one ventricle. Both of the embryonic aortic arches (certain arterial branches found in vertebrate embryos) persist in reptiles. blood from the abdominal region returns by a portal system passing through the liver. tortoises. however. In the crocodilians. The urinary bladder is present only in turtles. through the kidneys. and lizards . by a renal portal (vein-capillary) system.
The majority of reptiles are primitively oviparous (egg-laying). in other reptiles. both lungs are equally developed. only one lung is functional. or vascular foetal membrane. Existing reptiles are characterized by the development of two embryonic membranes: a protective amnion. but many snakes and lizards are viviparous (giving birth to live young). so the early stages of the animal's life cycle do not have to depend on water. In most snakes and some lizards. and mammals have. and breathing is accomplished by muscles of the body wall. The amnion. and a respiratory allantois. birds. or egg sac. The thorax and abdomen are not separated by a diaphragm. prevents the egg from drying out. which all reptiles. .
because some reptiles when active maintain their bodies at a higher temperature than most mammals. Reptiles are commonly referred to as cold-blooded. such as . Reptiles regulate their body temperatures by taking advantage of different sources of outside warmth.Being bound by the temperature of their environment. become inactive—in exceptionally hot and dry regions. and some forms aestivate— that is. whereas birds and mammals use internal heat. The important difference in temperature physiology is that reptiles rely on external sources of heat. which is actually misleading. reptiles hibernate in regions where the winter is cold.
Boa . American Anaconda The biggest snake in the world. tapered information). Crocodile African Rock meat-eating reptiles. Only when the animal is inactive or dormant is the body temperature approximately the same as that of the environment. Alligator Alligators are large. constricting their prey. African Rock meat-eating reptile and with no Pythons are large with a long. By using such heat sources to varying degrees. The American Go to a simple Python version (unlabeled crocodile is a rare. and the heated earth. individual species of reptiles keep their bodies more or less at the constant temperature characteristic of the particular species. warm stones and logs. snakes that kill by snout. Often this body temperature is well above the temperature of the surrounding air.direct sunlight.
they may not reach maturity for 20 years and can live for over 100 years. meat-eating reptile from fresh water habitats in South America. The animals grow extremely slowly. Tuataras are nocturnal. long.Dorling Kindersley This order contains the lizard-like reptiles known as tuataras. A large constricting An Australian snake from South and Central lizard with a America. or small lizards at night. Black Caiman The Black Caiman is a large. . birds.Angonoka (Ploughshare) Tortoise An endangered species from Madagascar. sleeping during the day and hunting for insects. blue tongue. which are differentiated from the lizards by osteological (bone and skeleton) characteristics. tuataras are the sole descendants of an order of ancient reptiles that lived more than 200 million years ago. Rhynchocephalians are well known from the Triassic and Jurassic periods. Bluetongued Skink Constrictor A Rhynchocephalia: tuataras Tuataras found only on a few small islands off the coast of New Zealand.
a long detachable tail. glass .but all are now extinct except the New Zealand tuatara. scales along the sides and underside of the body. such as the glass snake (top. Although some species of lizards. lack external legs. movable eyelids. Pictured here are (top. of the genus Sphenodon. they are still classified as lizards since they possess movable eyelids and a lower jaw that does not separate when swallowing large food items. B Squamata: lizards and snakes Lizards are reptiles typically characterized by the following features: four legs. centre). left to right) the chameleon. and a lower jaw with a rigid skeletal structure.
Blue-tongued Skink An Australian lizard with a long. . and gecko. Boa Constrictor A large constricting snake from South and Central America. This order forms the largest group of living reptiles. containing approximately 5. this hissing constrictor lives in North America.snake. blue tongue. It also contains certain extinct forms called Pythonomorpha that had snake-like bodies and lizard-like limbs. iguana. Gila monster.500 species of lizards and snakes. Bull Snake Also known as the gopher snake and the pine snake. monitor (bottom).
Komodo The King Cobra Liopleurodon was is the largest Dragon biggest plesiosaur. Gecko Gila Monster Green Iguana Iguana Iguana (unlabeled) Iguanas are plant-eating lizards. It in the world and a that lived over a hundred lives in India.Emerald Tree Boa A tree-dwelling nocturnal snake from South American rain forests. noise. Frilled Lizard A lizard with a huge neck frill. King Cobra Liopleurodon . It the a was venomous snake The biggest lizard huge. the Jurassic period. habitats. Geckos are the only A venomous lizard from Plant-eating lizards Iguanas are plant-eating lizards that make deserts of southwestern from moist lizards. fierce predator. during southern China. and southeast Asia. million years ago. North America. swimming reptile in the world.
Snakes The slow worm is a legless lizard that looks like a snake (it is not a worm at all). Slow Worm . narrow body and no legs.Postosuchus Postosuchus is an extinct reptile that lived over 200 million years ag Python Pythons are snakes that kill by constricting their prey. Snakes are reptiles that have a long. Rattlesnake Rattlesnakes are poisonous snakes that have a rattle at the end of the tail.
the average is about 1. Expand Crocodilians first evolved in the Late Triassic period.D Crocodilia: crocodiles. and amphibians.Edward Robinson/Oxford Scientific Films/BBC Natural History Sound Library. Although alligators grow to a maximum length of 6 m (20 ft). and gavials American Alligator the American alligator. other reptiles. Since alligators and other crocodilians are not able to chew their food. caimans. birds. has since then slowly increased in numbers throughout its native range.5 m (5 ft). alligators. which encompasses the south-eastern United States. mammals. declared an endangered species in 1967. they either swallow small animal’s whole or twist off pieces of larger animals and swallow those whole. All rights reserved. American alligators feed on carrion. and are the closest living relatives of .
dinosaurs and birds. Black Caiman The Black Caiman is a large. The heart is almost completely divided into four chambers. and the musculature of the stomach is so highly developed as to resemble a bird's gizzard. the brain shows a greater amount of development. meat-eating reptile from fresh water habitats in South America. .
Ichthyosaurus. The order comprised large marine reptiles that had fishlike bodies and paddle-like limbs. grew to lengths of more than 4 m (13 ft). G Saurischia and Ornithischia: dinosaurs . F Sauropterygia This extinct order included the long-necked aquatic forms that had large bodies and limbs adapted for “flying” through the water. Species of the typical genus.E Ichthyosauria Interactivity Snake Anatomy All members of this order are extinct.
H Pterosauria Pterosaur the pterosaurs were the first animals apart from insects to develop flapping flight. They became common in later times until the close of the Mesozoic era. . when they became extinct (except for the birds). Pterosaurs flew in prehistoric skies in the Mesozoic Era until their extinction at the end of the Cretaceous period.The well-known dinosaurs belonged to these orders of long-necked. I Therapsida The members of this extinct order are commonly called “mammal-like reptiles” as they are ancestral to mammals. long-tailed reptiles which first appear in Triassic strata. Evidence suggests that some pterosaurs were warm-blooded. They existed during the Permian and Triassic periods.Dorling Kindersley This is a group of extinct flying reptiles related to dinosaurs.
Geckos are the only A venomous lizard from Plant-eating lizards Iguanas are plant-eating lizards that make deserts of southwestern from moist lizards. North America. Gecko Gila Monster Green Iguana Iguana Iguana (unlabeled) Iguanas are plant-eating The biggest lizard Liopleurodon was the The King Cobra in the world and a biggest plesiosaur. It was a King Cobra Komodo Dragon Liopleurodon .Desert Tortoise A tortoise from southwestern North America. noise. habitats. Desmatosuchus An extinct reptile that lived over 200 million years ago.
southern China.lizards. and southeast Asia. It lives in India. is the largest venomous snake in the world. Sea Turtle Sea turtles are large marine turtles. America. fierce predator. have a long. Slow Worm Tuatara The Spectacled Caiman is a common An unusual reptile meat-eating reptile from fresh water A turtle with from islands off New habitats in South and Central strong jaws and a Zealand. Loggerhead Veiled Chameleon A printout on the loggerhead turtle. huge. narrow body and no legs. Turtle. Snapping Turtle Spectacled Caiman Turtles Turtles are coldblooded animals that have a protective shell. swimming reptile that lived over a hundred million years ago. during the Jurassic period. Snakes The slow worm is a legless lizard that looks like a snake (it is not a Snakes are reptiles that worm at all). A chameleon with a helmet- . long tail.
.like casque on its head.
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